Building web applications is a long and sometimes complicated endeavor, but it can be very rewarding. If you prepare well enough ahead of time and know what you’re getting into, then the whole process has a better chance of being smooth sailing. Better yet, entrust the process to a full-service software company in Orlando that has the expertise to ensure its success.
To avoid unnecessary challenges or unexpected surprises, we’ll list down the steps of how you should approach the web application development process.
What is a Web Application?
A web application is, in essence, a computer program that will use features of the web such as browsers to perform various tasks over the internet.
You’ve definitely seen web applications before. Every time you visit a website and fill out a contact form, you’ve interacted with a web application. A web application is most simply a program that is made to perform a specific function, after all, and is inherently something that has both a client-side and a server-side.
Web apps will work to exchange information across a database and a server, basically allowing businesses to partake in transactions with their customers. Your web application will store information about your customers and allow content to be managed more easily.
Web applications can also be used by both individuals and by companies to help with purchases, create files, share information between devices, and improve overall collaboration.
These types of web applications work without needing to be installed on your hard drive, don’t need much maintenance, and don’t have a high cost either. You only need to access these web apps on your browser to use them.
Differences Between Web Apps and Web Pages
You’re probably wondering what the difference is between web apps and web pages.
The main difference is this: web pages are static and read-only, meant to just distribute information to the person engaging with them while web apps are made to be dynamic, meant to allow for a two-way movement of information.
If you made a webpage, you’ll have your profile or your company’s profile, which people can read, but that’s more or less all they can do.
But if you’re using a web app, it might open up on a web page, but it will allow you to physically engage in the content in some way, even if it’s just filling out your contact information on an email form.
Realistically though, websites and web apps often overlap. The biggest distinction is that web apps are made to be something that helps you perform specific tasks.
Benefits of Web App Development
The world is pretty much online now. People use their phones all the time, and it’s very hard to live without a home computer. This means that building your own web app will be a great part of your online advertising—and will help you get the name of your business out there.
If you want to run your business smoothly, a web app might be just what you’re looking for. There are a lot of benefits to building custom web apps so let’s have a look.
One Time Effort, Full-Time Access
When you build a web application, you only need to build it once and then you can access it anywhere.
This means that it’s possible for you to access your application across different operating systems without worrying about this user who has a PC and this other user that operates using a Mac. Everyone can collaborate or can interact with the app without you needing to make adjustments.
Just for Your Business
Building a custom application means that you can build something that is absolutely perfect for your specific company. Your application will serve your specific purpose in a way that a borrowed app couldn’t.
You have the power to choose which features you want your users to interact with and how you want your users to navigate. This affects their overall experience with your company and with your website in general—improving your productivity as well.
Ease of Use
Quite simply, it’s just easy to use a web app. You can access the app from any device as long as you’re on the internet, and no users ever need to ask to update their software.
You can just update the app from your end and your users will automatically see the change when they next come to your app.
You can also add some programming to your app to interact with your users through push notifications and other methods as well—what you have included on your web app is really up to you, which is the point of building a custom app.
Keep Data Safe
You want both your data and your user’s data to stay safe, which is exactly what a web app will do. These apps store data in remote servers, so if your computer is damaged or stolen, all you need to do is access the cloud to get your data back.
Not only will this keep your data safe, but it will prevent any interruptions in the operation of your business in the meantime.
By contrast, commercial apps tend not to have quite as much security, if only because hackers have seen them before. Often, hackers aren’t as familiar with an app that’s custom-made.
Price and Time
It will take you less time to maintain your app and less money overall to get it started when you build your own, which is one of the biggest benefits when it comes to custom applications. Especially if you’re a smaller business, you might find that these apps will work perfectly for what you need to get done.
Steps to Building Your Own Web App
How do you build your own web application? From beginning to end, we’ll discuss all the major steps to take and what to keep in mind.
When it comes to building web apps, there are four different stages in the web application framework that you’ll work through. In the first stage, you’ll develop your idea, market research, and define the functionality of your app.
In the second stage, you’ll sketch your app, outline your workflow, wireframe the UI, and look for early validation.
After the first and second steps, you’re ready to begin the actual development of your web application.
Stage three consists of designing the architecture of your database, developing your frontend, and developing your backend. The fourth and final stage is the launch stage. Here, you’ll host your web app and then deploy it!
With that simple overview of the four stages of the web application development process, it’s time to get started!
Step 1: Develop Your Idea
Without an idea, you can’t build your web application. It’s important to define what problem your web app will solve and why. You can’t build a web app with just the skeleton of an idea. You’ll have to fully develop your idea before you continue.
In order to ensure your web app is as developed as it needs to be, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
Building a web app takes time and commitment so before you get started, you should have a clear, thought-out answer to each of the questions below.
- How much time will I have to build this app?
- What am I or my users interested in?
- How much time and money or what benefits will this app generate for me?
- How will it improve my life or my users’ lives?
Step 2: Market Research
Is there a need for your web application? Does something like it already exist?
Once you know what kind of web app you want to build, it’s time to do some market research. It’s possible that an identical or similar app already exists, in which case, you probably shouldn’t continue with yours.
If not, you’ll want to do plenty of research on your audience and the target range of customers.
Many start-up web apps fail because their designers didn’t do proper market research. By taking time to properly research the current market and figure out who your target audience is, you’ll increase the odds of your web application succeeding.
Unlike what some people may think, market research is actually fairly easy. Thanks to Google, Betalist, Product Hunt, and patent searches, you can narrow down your search and find accurate results.
If your idea already exists, you’re sure to find it through these sites. This can also show you where your audience may lie and whether or not your idea will be a success.
Step 3: Define its Functionality
Maybe your web application meets several needs and has a variety of attractive features, but this is where you’ll narrow everything down to one main purpose.
Determine and define the one core purpose of your web app and why people should use it. Don’t get carried away trying to talk about all the little reasons.
Once you’ve defined the single main functionality of your web app, start thinking about all the basic features it will need. Usernames, passwords, profile dashboards, payment systems, checkout pages, or whatever else your users may need.
As this is the last step of the idea stage, you should have a clear picture of what your app will look like and how it will function. After you’re certain you’ve defined its use, it’s time to move on.
Step 4: Sketch Your Web App
Keep it simple. Think of this as the rough draft of your web app and get creative when sketching it out.
When sketching your app, make sure to include basic sketches of each page. Sketch out the home page, the profile page, the checkout page, and any other pages you know you’ll include. Locate buttons and links but know that you can always move them if you like them better elsewhere.
Step 5: Outline Workflow
After you sketch out your app, lay out your pages in the order you want them to go in. This will help you outline your workflow and determine which pages you work on when. Consider the results from your market research and incorporate those too.
In outlining your workflow, you may come up with a few questions. Write them down and then answer them later. Perhaps even visit a similar app and ask yourself questions as you navigate it. This can help you create a clean, intuitive app from the start.
Step 6: Wireframing Your App
Get out your computer because it’s time for the wireframing stage of your web app development. Like your paper sketch, your wireframe is just a rough draft, but on a computer and a little more official.
With it, you’ll start designing the first few prototypes of your web app. It will also give you a better idea of how your web app pages will look.
There are a number of programs you can use to wireframe your app that you can find below. All of them are macOS compatible, but only the last three are compatible with Windows. If you have a different operating system, you may have to do some research.
- InVision Studio
- Adobe XD
Step 7: Early Validation
As the last step before the development stage, you’ll need to find a group of trial users to test your web application. These users will provide feedback that you should take into account as you continue into the development process.
Step 8: Architect Your Database
During this step, you’ll need to determine what information will be stored in your database. You’ll also decide what type of database to use and what purpose it will serve.
If you aren’t familiar with available database options, then go ahead and do some research. If you are, now is the time for you to decide how your data will be segregated and ensure it’s secured.
A very common mistake that can endanger your data is by forgetting to change the default admin login. Although it seems logical, many people forget to change it which leaves their data easily available for anyone who tries to log in.
Step 9: Build Frontend and Backend
After you’ve got your frontend developed, it’s time to take a look at your backend. This is what usually manages all your data and consists of all the invisible aspects of your web app. Developing the backend of your web app though can be the most difficult part of the whole building process.
If you don’t feel confident building your own backend, then you can find online tools that will help or hire someone else to do it for you.
Step 10: Host and Deploy Your Web App
Now that you’ve got your web app developed and ready to go, it’s time to choose a server to host your app and then launch it.
Once you’ve chosen, you’ll also need to buy your domain, set up an SSL certificate, and choose a cloud provider. Fortunately, there are several cloud platforms to choose from such as Amazon, Google, and MS Azure.
After you’ve hosted your web app and got all the finishing touches done, it’s time to launch your web app. You’ve just built your web application.
Web app development takes time so don’t expect to spend a single day and then call it good. However, if you’re serious about building your own app and don’t have the time or expertise, it’s wise to hire an app developer to take care of the entire process. Don’t hesitate to call us today to see how we can help you build your web application!